Species Profile and Threats Database

For information to assist proponents in referral, environmental assessments and compliance issues, refer to the Policy Statements and Guidelines (where available), the Conservation Advice (where available) or the Listing Advice (where available).
In addition, proponents and land managers should refer to the Recovery Plan (where available) or the Conservation Advice (where available) for recovery, mitigation and conservation information.

EPBC Act Listing Status Listed as Endangered
Recovery Plan Decision Recovery Plan required, this species had a recovery plan in force at the time the legislation provided for the Minister to decide whether or not to have a recovery plan (19/2/2007).
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans National Recovery Plan for the South-Eastern Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo Calyptorhynchus banksii graptogyne (Australian Government Department of the Environment and Water Resources (AGDEW), 2007b) [Recovery Plan].
Other EPBC Act Plans National recovery plan for the Buloke Woodlands of the Riverina and Murray Darling Depression Bioregions (Victoria Department of Sustainability and Environment (Vic. DSE), 2011e) [Recovery Plan].
Threat Abatement Plan for Beak and Feather Disease Affecting Endangered Psittacine Species (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2005q) [Threat Abatement Plan].
Policy Statements and Guidelines Survey Guidelines for Australia's Threatened Birds. EPBC Act survey guidelines 6.2 (Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA), 2010l) [Admin Guideline].
Information Sheets Background and Implementation Information for the South-eastern Red-tailed Black-cockatoo Calyptorhynchus banksii graptogyne Recovery Plan (Australian Government Department of the Environment and Water Resources, 2006c) [Information Sheet].
South-eastern red-tailed black-cockatoo, Calyptorhynchus banksii graptogyne Threatened Species Day fact sheet (Department of the Environment and Water Resources (DEW), 2007b) [Information Sheet].
Federal Register of
    Legislative Instruments
Declaration under s178, s181, and s183 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 - List of threatened species, List of threatened ecological communities and List of threatening processes (Commonwealth of Australia, 2000) [Legislative Instrument].
List of Migratory Species (13/07/2000) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2000b) [Legislative Instrument].
List of Migratory Species - Amendment to the list of migratory species under section 209 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (26/11/2013) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2013af) [Legislative Instrument].
State Government
    Documents and Websites
VIC:Flora and Fauna Guarantee Action Statement 37 - Revised 2006 South-eastern Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo Calyptorhynchus banksii graptogyne (Menkhorst, P., R. Hill & T. Burnard, 2006) [State Action Plan].
State Listing Status
SA: Listed as Endangered (National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972 (South Australia): June 2011 list)
VIC: Listed as Threatened* (Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 (Victoria): February 2014 list)
Non-statutory Listing Status
VIC: Listed as Endangered (Advisory List of Threatened Vertebrate Fauna in Victoria: 2013 list)
NGO: Listed as Endangered (The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2010)
Scientific name Calyptorhynchus banksii graptogyne [25982]
Family Cacatuidae:Psittaciformes:Aves:Chordata:Animalia
Species author  
Infraspecies author Schodde, Saunders and Homberger,1989
Distribution map Species Distribution Map

This is an indicative distribution map of the present distribution of the species based on best available knowledge. See map caveat for more information.

Illustrations Google Images

Victoria: At the species level, Calyptorhynchus banksii is listed as Threatened under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988.

Scientific name: Calyptorhynchus banksii graptogyne

Common name: Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo (south-eastern)
While Red-tailed Black-Cockatoos (Calyptorhynchus banksii) occur in western and northern Australia, the population in south-east Australia is genetically isolated and considered a distinct sub-species (Schodde 1988). The subspecific distinctiveness of the south-east population was recognised in the 1980s (Ford 1980, Schodde 1988). The southern Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo is one of five subspecies occurring in seven or eight populations across Australia (Ford 1980, Higgins 1999; Koch 2003).

The Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo (south-eastern) is a large, conspicuous and noisy cockatoo. Males are black with a broad, red tail band that is most noticeable on take-off. Males also have a dark grey bill and a rounded crest that moves forward when erect. Females and immatures have black-brown plumage with fine yellow spots and bars, yellow to orange bands with fine black stripes, and a cream bill (DSE 1993).

The Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo (south-eastern) is restricted to a small area of South Australia and Victoria, delimited by Keith to Lucindale to Mt Gambier in South Australia and Portland to Casterton, Toolondo, Natimuk, Dimboola, Nhill, and Kaniva in Victoria (Hill & Burnard 2001). It is widespread but rare within this range, and breeds throughout in loose colonies with several nests within 1 km² and a minimum of 40 m between active nests (Hill, undated).

The total extent of occurrence is approximately 18 000 km² with an estimated 28% area of occupancy (Burnard & Hill 2002a).

The area of occupancy has been estimated at 2500 km², with Garnett and Crowley (2000) noting that the reliability of this figure is medium.

The following table provides an overview of surveys for the south-eastern Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo between 1967 and 2000 (Birds Australia 2005c).

Survey Method Count
Personal observation, near Casterton, in summer. 550+/- 100 (one flock).
39 days in field driving through stringybark woodland and Buloke, plus community survey; throughout the year. 160
(Joseph, Emison & Bren)
Observations of birds leaving roosting sites at 5 Crown Land blocks within 30 km of Edenhope, February to May. 269
(Community Survey)
90+ observers randomly scattered across current known range; drive 500 m, stop, look/listen, drive on; August 24th & 25th. 436
(Community survey)
80+ observers search as per 1996 survey; March 8th & 9th. 300 (72% recorded from Buloke in northern part of the range).
(Community survey)
Observers search as per 1996 and 1997 but assigned to 49 grid squares covering range; February 8th & March 1st. 392
(Hill & Burnard)
Birds counted returning to roost sites; August 8th. 634
1999 150 observers search as per 1996 and 1997; February 27th & 28th 452
2000 170 observers search as per 1996 and 1997; February 26th & 27th. 686

Population Surveys are carried out annually in April/May by the Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo Recovery Team. The surveys began in 1996 and are done mostly by volunteers (Phillips 2007).

The size of the single population was estimated to be between 500 and 1000 birds in 1989 (Joseph et al. 1991), with a highest count of 785 birds in 2003 (Hill, undated). As about 42% of these were mature males in 2003 (Hill, undated), the minimum number of breeding birds is estimated at 660 (Commonwealth of Australia 2005).

The Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo (south-eastern) has been isolated from the populations in Western Australia and northern Australia for an unknown period, probably hundreds or even thousands of years. Immigration is unlikely because suitable habitat is lacking between these populations. As the Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo (south-eastern) population is taxonomically distinct, it should not be supplemented from the other locations (DSE 1993).

A continuing population decline has been inferred from habitat loss (Hill & Burnard 2001), and demonstrated between 1999 and 2004, when the proportion of adult males increased by 6% (Hill, undated). This may be a seriously negative population trend as it indicates that in just six years, production of young has fallen such that the time required to replace the adult population has more than doubled from 16 to 37 years (Commonwealth of Australia 2005). One study provides evidence that food and habitat availability may be limiting the growth of Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo (south-eastern) populations (Koch 2006):

  • the high percentage of time spent foraging, which increases as seed crops age and are depleted
  • the high rates of habitat use (100% of long unburnt sites were used by cockatoos; 64% of trees were used within each site)
  • the use of nearly all burnt sites, despite their generally lower food productivity
  • the observation that food depleted sites were revisted by flocks of cockatoos several times.

The Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo (south-eastern) is restricted to Desert Stringybark (Eucalyptus arenacea) and Brown Stringybark (E. baxteri) woodlands occurring on deep aeolian sands in the Glenelg, Wimmera and Naracoorte Plains, and adjacent woodlands of River Red Gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis), Yellow Gum (E. leucoxylon) and Buloke (Allocasuarina luehmannii) (Hill & Burnard 2001, Koch 2003).

Much of the stringybark feeding habitat in Victoria is on public land. Much of the Buloke feeding habitat and breeding habitat throughout its range, and stringybark feeding habitat in South Australia, is on private land (Hill & Burnard 2001, Koch 2003).

The distribution of the two stringybark species within the cockatoo's range is not well understood, but E. baxteri is more common in the south of the cockatoo's range (P. Koch 2002, pers. comm.). Patterns of flowering and fruit production of the two species differ with generally only one species providing suitable food at any one time (Koch 2002 pers. comm.). Floristic plant community mapping in South Australia, identifies four floristic plant communities dominated by the preferred feed-tree species E. baxteri and/or E. arenacea (Croft et al. 1999). In Victoria, most records of the Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo (south-eastern) occur in two Ecological Vegetation Classes (EVCs): Heathy Woodland and Herb-rich Heathy Woodland.

Seeds are also taken from Buloke Allocasurina leuhmannii trees. Buloke occurs only in the north of the Red-tailed Black-Cockatoos' (south-eastern) range, and its seeds are available in summer and early autumn (Hill et al. 2003). The overall profitability of Buloke trees for foraging Red-tailed Black-Cockatoos (south-eastern) varies between years. Trees that are unprofitable in one year may be profitable in the following year (Hill et al. 2003).

The Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo (south-eastern) requires very old, large hollow eucalypts for nesting; preferring dead trees, but also using live trees where dead trees have been cleared. Nests are most often found in farmland with scattered, large, live and dead Red Gums, a remnant of one of several EVC described in Victoria or two floristic plant communities in South Australia. In South Australia, the remaining Red Gum communities in the lower southeast are classified as Vulnerable with 9.7% of the estimated original area extant and 0.3% protected in the government reserve system (Croft et al. 1999). In southwestern Victoria, Plains Grassy Woodland is classified as Endangered with an estimated 4% remaining, of which 1.5% is reserved. Nest trees range in height from 8-32 m (mean = 17.5±5.0) and dbh (diameter at breast height) ranged from 48-198 cm (115.5±30.0). Nests were much more likely to be found in dead trees (81% of trees). Nests were 11.4±3.0 m above the ground and were more likely to be found in 'spouts' rather than hollows in trunks (Hill & Burnard 2001).

The Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo (south-eastern) usually utilises clumps of tall eucalypts for roosting, and sometimes uses the same site each night for many months (Hill, undated). Of 19 roost sites, 79% were in corpses of Red Gum (E. camuldulensis), 16% in Blue Gum (E. leucoxylon) and 5% in Manna Gum (E. viminalis cygnatensis). Thirteen (68%) of these sites were on private land. Red Gum trees chosen for roosting were 80±13 cm dbh and 26±3 m in height. The distance from the roosting tree to the nearest neighbouring tree was 6.2±3.9 m. Manna Gums chosen for roosting were 64±32 cm dbh and 20±2 m in height and 3.9±3.2 m from the nearest neighbouring tree.

Breeding habitat:
South-eastern Red-tailed Black-Cockatoos nest only in large hollows in both live and dead eucalypts. They show a preference for dead trees with over 80% of known nests recorded in dead trees. Nests have been recorded in Eucalyptus camuldulensis, E. baxteri, E. arenacea, E. viminalis, E. leucoxylon and E. fasciculosa. The birds require large hollows with an entrance which is preferably facing upwards and which can be vertical, but cannot face towards the ground. Nest hollows tend to be in vertical or near vertical (greater than 45°) 'spouts', but can also be in the trunk. Nests are situated higher than 6 m above the ground and have a nest entrance of 15-50 cm in diameter (Hill & Burnard 2001).

Habitat critical for survival:
The habitat critical to survival of the Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo (south-eastern) is defined as all potential habitat within its 'current normal range'. Potential habitat includes feeding, nesting and roosting habitat as described within this profile. Potential habitat has been mapped to the extent possible as areas where habitats are known to occur, areas where habitats are likely to occur and areas where habitat may occur (but the location is unknown). All remaining Buloke trees within the range of the Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo (south-eastern) constitute critical habitat, however most Buloke consists of isolated paddock trees (Hill et al. 2003). None of the habitat critical to survival identified is within Commonwealth areas (Commonwealth of Australia 2005).

There is no information available about refuge habitats. Three sites are known where very large flocks of cockatoos have been recorded, presumably in response to a shortage of food. They are Rennick State Forest (360 birds), Pieracle Swamp, southwest of Casterton (around 500 birds), and Dunrobin (460 birds) (Hill & Burnard 2001).

The isolated Buloke trees and Buloke woodland that have been identified as critical habitat for the Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo (south-eastern) is listed as threatened under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Hill et al. 2003). Less than 3% of Buloke woodlands remain uncleared in Victoria (Hill et al. 2003). The remaining Buloke woodland is highly degraded with much consisting of scattered trees in paddocks (Maron & Lill 2004). The highly mobile nature of the Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo (south-eastern) means that tree isolation has little effect on the choice of Buloke feeding sites (Hill et al. 2003).

Fecundity, lifespan, generation interval:
The adult male plumage is reached at four years and pairs with sub-adult males occur but have not been observed nesting. The female plumage is indistinguishable from sub-adults for at least two years. Only one-egg clutches have been recorded and adults are suspected of attempting to nest annually. The incubation period is approximately 30 days and the nestling period is 87 days (Higgins 1999). One juvenile was observed being fed by its parents six months after fledging. It is a long-lived species.

Breeding season:
The breeding season commences in September and nests with eggs are frequently found up to December. However, cockatoos may nest successfully in any season (Hill, undated).

Conditions needed for breeding:
Breeding success is influenced by the presence of Common Brushtail Possums (Trichosurus vulpecular) which can be common in agricultural landscapes where most of the cockatoo population now breeds (Jarmyn 2000). Collaring of nest trees in order to restrict possum access to cockatoo nests increases breeding success. Food availability may also influence breeding success (Jarmyn 2000).

The diet of the Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo (south-eastern) is particularly specialised (Maron & Lill 2004). The species feeds almost entirely on the seeds of two stringybark eucalypts: Desert Stringybark (Eucalyptus arenacea) and Brown Stringybark (Eucalyptus baxteri), preferring the species that have fruited most recently (Attiwill 1960; Joseph 1982a). Desert Stringybark fruits on a three year cycle and Brown Stringybark on a two to four year cycle (Koch 2003).

Red-tailed Black-Cockatoos prefer long unburnt (10 years post fire) stringybark woodlands for feeding which have on average twice the seed availability as stringybark woodland burnt more recently (Koch 2002 pers. comm.). The distributions of the two stringybark eucalypts in the range of the Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo (south-eastern) are poorly known (Koch 2003).

The seed of the Buloke (Allocasuarina leuhmanii) is the only other food item the subspecies feeds on regularly (Koch 2003). Stringybark seed is the Cockatoo's main food item during most of the year but in summer and early autumn, when the Buloke produces fruit, a large number of the population moves into areas of Buloke to feed (Joseph 1982a; Maron 2000). Although Red-tailed Black-Cockatoos (south-eastern) have been observed to feed in trees as small as 19 cm diameter, there is a significant preference for larger trees in which to forage (Hill et al. 2003). Buloke trees are extremely slow growing, taking 100 years to reach 19 cm in diameter (Morcom, in Hill et al. 2003).

Feeding behaviour:
Studies of the subspecies were conducted in 2000 and 2001 in an area of about 1600 km², located in the southwest Wimmera district of Victoria and adjoining areas of South Australia, and north and west of the town of Edenhope, Victoria (37º3'S, 141º20'E) (Maron & Lill 2004). The studies focused on tree selection by foraging cockatoos. During the study, which is discussed in detail by Maron and Lill (2004), the following observations of this subspecies foraging behaviour were made.

It was observed that cockatoos normally fed in groups of two to 15, although flocks of over 40 cockatoos were seen on two occasions. A group of cockatoos usually occupied several trees within a stand at one time. Preferred trees were usually revisited for many days until few cones remained on the branches (Maron & Lill 2004).

Cockatoos were observed removing an individual cone or nipping off a small piece of branch that held a cluster of closed cones. One would then be removed with the bill while holding the branch with the left foot. The cockatoo would drop the branch and remaining cones. The cone would be held in front of the bill with the left foot and the cockatoo would then gouge away the hard material, pausing repeatedly to husk and swallow a seed. Normally, all seeds were taken from a cone before a search for a new one was commenced (Maron & Lill 2004).

The Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo (south-eastern) subspecies is arboreal (Koch 2003). At the species level, Red-tailed Black-Cockatoos (Calyptorhynchus banksii) vary greatly in feeding ecology (Koch 2003). For example, in forested regions receiving high rainfall, the species is exclusively arboreal, but in arid regions the species is almost entirely ground-feeding (Higgins 1999). Koch (2003) postulates that these differences are probably due to differences in climate and habitat and associated with morphological differences in wing length and bill size.

Red-tailed Black-Cockatoos (south-eastern) do not make annual movements but they apparently move throughout their range in response to changes in the availability of stringybark seed. In some years, most birds occur in the northern part of the range as they feed on Desert Stringybark E. arenacea, and in other years, most occur in the southern part of the range and feed on Brown Stringybark E. baxteri (Koch 2002 pers. comm.).

The south-eastern subspecies of the Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo is distinguished from rest the of the species by its small size, brightly coloured female birds and specialised feeding and breeding requirements (Birds Australia 2005d). The south-eastern subspecies has shorter wings and smaller bills than other subspecies (Ford 1980). Koch (2003) postulates that the smaller wing size of the south-eastern subspecies is due to its relatively small range and dense woodland habitat, which contrasts to the open, riverine habitats of the northern subspecies. There is also a lack of step in the cutting edge of the maxilla in the south-eastern subspecies (Schodde et al. 1993).

The Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo is active, noisy and conspicuous, and has loud contact and flight calls (Higgins 1999). It is said to be less wary when feeding than at other times. It generally does not allow close approach (Birds Australia 2005d).

Recommended Methods:
This species can be detected by sighting the bird, or by identifying its call. It can also be surveyed using road transects (travelling by vehicle), or by using aerial transects in extensive areas (Higgins 1999).

The following threats have been identified in the National Recovery Plan for the South-eastern Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo (Commonwealth of Australia 2005).

Threats to food supplies:

Food shortages:
Food shortages are the main threat to the long-term survival of the Red tailed Black-Cockatoo (south-eastern) (Koch 2003; Hill, undated) as there is mounting evidence that cockatoo breeding success is related to the availability of fresh stringyback seed crops (Menkhorst & McGuire in Olsen & Weston 2005). Some food shortages are natural and due to the fruiting cycles of feeding trees. Dietary specialisation and food shortages have a profound effect on the birds' annual distribution, movements, and nesting success (Koch 2003). The impact of natural shortages are exacerbated by the historical removal of feeding habitat and by current activities such as clearing of habitat, scattered tree removal, tree decline and death due to damage from domestic animals, and deliberately lit fires (Burnard & Hill 2002a).

Impacts of fire on food:
The stringybark forests of southwestern Victoria are highly flammable and the heathy understorey requires fire to maintain its floristic diversity (Menkhorst & McGuire in Olsen & Weston 2005). Prescribed burns and wildfires substantially reduce seed availability in stringybarks for at least nine years, with some effects persisting for more than 11 years (Koch 2003). Therefore, the widespread burning of stringybark forests through the twentieth century may have been the cause of population decline in the Red tailed Black-Cockatoo (south-eastern) (Menkhorst & McGuire in Olsen & Weston 2005). Prescribed burns should be timed to avoid years in which a given block of woodland has a newly matured seed crop. Burning of the 16% of stringybark habitat privately owned in Victoria is commonplace and may occur at a much higher frequencies than on public land (Hill, undated). Most (11%) stringybark in the lower south-east of South Australia occurs on private land which tends to be long unburnt (Burnard & Hill 2002a). The greatest opportunity for substantial gains in food availability by increasing fire intervals appears to be on private land in Victoria.

Feeding habitat loss:
About 57% of all suitable habitat has been cleared within the range (54% of stringybark woodland and over 97% of Buloke woodland). Stringybark habitat is much more fragmented in South Australia than in Victoria (Burnard & Hill 2002a). Paddock trees provide important food and nest sites. Permission to clear blocks of woodland vegetation in South Australia and Victoria is rarely granted, but applications to clear paddock trees are regularly approved (Burnard & Hill 2002a). Estimated rates of loss of paddock trees in south eastern Australia of up to 40% in 30 years indicate that few paddock trees will survive past the next century if current attrition rates continue (Carruthers & Paton 2005). In the southeast of South Australia, paddock tree decline over the next 50 years has been estimated to be as high as 36%, based on authorised clearance records (Carruthers et al. 2004) and regional dieback estimates, with 65% of the predicted loss from authorised clearance. Clearance of remaining Buloke critical habitat is a major continuing threat to the Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo (south-eastern) as large numbers of Buloke trees are being removed each year, and offset plantings of Buloke will not become suitable cockatoo foraging habitat for at least 100 years (Hill et al. 2003; Maron & Lill 2004).

Maron (2004) found that over a 15 year period (1982-1997) Buloke tree loss averaged 33% in three cropping areas and was as low as 4% in a predominantly sheep grazing area. The most significant factor in the loss of trees was the installation of centre pivot irrigation systems. The burning of crop stubble, a common practice in the area, also resulted in Buloke tree deaths. In addition, much of the Buloke regeneration along roadsides is too dense to provide suitable foraging habitat (Maron 2004).

Grazing impacts on foraging sites:
Uncontrolled grazing is a major threat contributing to the death and decline of trees on private land throughout the range (Cutten & Hodder 2002). For example, in four paddocks near Naracoorte regularly used for feeding, 76% of stringybarks had some degree of ringbarking caused by cattle, and 15% were dead (Hill, undated). Cattle can also kill mature Bulokes (Maron 2002).

Fragmentation of foraging habitat:
Red-tailed Black-Cockatoos use both fragmented and intact foraging habitat (Maron 2000, Hill, undated), but the energetic costs of foraging in highly fragmented stringybark areas may lead to reduced viability in such areas (Koch 2003). The disappearance of Carnaby's Cockatoo from parts of its former range was linked to severe habitat fragmentation (Saunders 1990). Habitat fragmentation brings with it a host of degrading impacts which need to be addressed at a landscape scale (Radford et al. 2004; Reid & Landsberg 2000; Ryan 2004).

Weed invasion of foraging habitat:
Substantial areas of foraging habitat have been cleared for Pine Pinus radiata plantations. Subsequently, wildling pines have established themselves in large numbers in nearby remnant stringybark woodlands, particularly in southern areas. Pines suppress the growth of young stringybarks and most understorey plants, and can kill trees that they overtop. Since 1989, planning permits to establish plantations in Victoria have required the control of wildlings, but these permit conditions have rarely been enforced (Carruthers & Paton 2005) .

Threats to nest sites:

Nest site availability:
Dead nest trees are falling over at 4-7% per year (Hill & Burnard 2001), and this rate is likely to increase as the trees age. Many other dead trees are felled for firewood or when paddocks are cultivated. In 2006, 90% gum nesting habitat had been cleared (Hill 2006). Emison and Caldow (1994) instigated an artificial nest site programme, but Hill and Burnard (2001) argued that nest hollow availability is not limiting the population, at least in the short term, because there is a low rate of re-use (33%) of known nest sites, with some birds occupying nearby sites in subsequent years. They also noted that Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos have very similar requirements and have been recorded on several occasions using hollows previously used by Red-tailed Black-Cockatoos, yet the number of Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos is increasing (Barrett et al. 2002).

Although the birds prefer dead nest trees, in areas where dead trees are now very rare, Red-tailed Black-Cockatoos persist and breeding success is not different to flocks in areas where dead trees remain common (Hill & Burnard 2001). Many nest trees are near the end of their lifespan (Gibbons & Lindenmayer 2002) and there is a landscape-scale cessation of eucalypt regeneration in the sheep-wheat belt of southeastern Australia (Robinson & Traill 1996a; Reid & Landsberg 2000). Given that trees containing larger hollows used by Red-tailed Black-Cockatoos are likely to be over 220 years old (Gibbons & Lindenmayer 2002), there is likely to be a serious shortfall in suitable hollow-bearing trees in the decades to come. Replanting the required scattered trees in the landscape would be logistically impossible and prohibitively expensive (Reid & Landsberg 2000).

Firewood harvesting:
Both commercial and private firewood harvesting is a threat to Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo nesting habitat. In Victoria 1-1.4 million tonnes of firewood are collected each year from all land tenures, more than twice the volume of hardwood timber harvested from public land (Read Sturgess and Assoc. 1995). Most firewood is taken from standing and fallen dead timber, principally gum species, but also stringybarks.

Nest predators:
Jarmyn (2000) found that the main proximate cause of nest failure in one year was nest predators such as Common Brush-tailed Possums (Trichosurus vulpecular) and ravens Corvus sp., but the ultimate cause was a shortage of food which forced incubating females to leave their nests unattended and forage for themselves. Because the number of successful nests is much higher in years with adequate seed availability, and Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos use the same or similar nest sites and are increasing in numbers, it is unlikely that nest predators are a major factor limiting recovery of Red-tailed Black-Cockatoos.

Human interference with nests:
Robbing of nests for the illegal avicultural trade has been identified as a threat of unknown magnitude to the population (McGuire pers. comm.). While only one South-eastern Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo is known to be in captivity, the bird's small total population size makes it vulnerable to reductions in breeding success due to human interference with nests.

Other threats:

Information gaps:
Some nest colonies are not managed appropriately due to a lack of information on their location. Similarly, there is a lack of detailed information on the whereabouts of some key blocks of private land, whose owners may need financial and management assistance. The relative importance of Buloke woodland could be confirmed by collecting time budget data on birds foraging in Buloke and comparing these with data from stringybark woodlands in years of adequate and poor seed availability.

Communication gaps:
Beumer (2000) summarised the key findings of a telephone survey of 500 landholders within the range of the Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo, pinpointing gaps in the recovery team's work. A key requirement is the production of a communication strategy.

Beak and feather disease:
Beak and feather disease is an infectious disease affecting parrots, caused by a circovirus named Beak and Feather Disease virus. This common disease apparently originated in Australia. It is capable of causing very high death rates in nestlings, and the potential effects of the disease on parrot populations vary from inconsequential to devastating, depending on environmental conditions, and the general health and immunity of the parrots. It can be introduced to endangered populations of parrots via the movements of common species carrying the disease. Lesions suggestive of beak and feather disease have been recorded in Red-tailed Black Cockatoos (DEH 2005q).

A recovery project for the Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo (south-eastern) was initiated by the Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) in 1992-93. Backed by Federal Government funding the project was then taken on by Birds Australia in 1997 and formed into the Red-tailed Black Cockatoo Recovery Plan (Phillips 2007).

The National Recovery Plan for the Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo (south-eastern) Calyptorhynchus banksii graptogyne (Commonwealth of Australia 2005) proposes the following Recovery Actions for this species:

  • Identify and protect feeding habitat from clearing.
  • Link and reserve feeding habitat.
  • Encourage fencing of feeding habitat to protect it from stock.
  • Replant feeding habitat, particularly Buloke.
  • Identify and reduce threats from fire.
  • Reduce threats from weed invasion in feeding habitat.
  • Monitor the populations, range and area of occupancy.
  • Expand nest site statutory protection.
  • Reduce threats from reductions in nest sites.
  • Maintain existing artificial nests and monitor their use.
  • Identify and protect nest sites from ground predators.
  • Assess and reduce illegal trade.
  • Locate nest colonies and key blocks of private land.
  • Collect information on Buloke use and management.
  • Produce and implement a communication strategy.

The Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo (south-eastern) Recovery Team advises that Buloke revegetation, whilst important, does not alleviate the impact of the loss of Buloke feeding habitat because of the extremely slow rate of growth of this tree (Hill et al. 2003). They therefore recommend that offsets to Buloke removal should place priority on conservation and restoration of existing isolated Buloke with preference given to areas of higher density (Hill et al. 2003).The Recovery Team state that protection and enhancement of critical feeding habitat will be the primary tool to achieve recovery of the south-eastern Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo (Hill et al. 2003).

The Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) has taken the following actions to protect the south-eastern Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo (DSE 2005):

  • DSE is preparing a revised Flora and Fauna Guarantee Action Statement, which will define the Victorian Government's actions to recover the population. This will include addressing the following key aims:
    • Maintaining the area of existing feeding habitat.
    • Increasing seed production in existing feeding habitat.
    • Establishing new feeding habitat.
    • Maintaining the availability of nest trees.
    • Minimising the impact of nest predators.
    • Increasing awareness and involvement by the local community.
  • DSE is building measures into the Portland-Horsham Forest Management Plan to protect Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo habitat. This includes conducting carefully planned and managed ecological burns in the stringybark forests to reduce fuel loads and therefore potentially devastating fires and to protect the essential feeding habitat which is the main food source of the bird.
  • DSE is supporting organisations that purchase land with important Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo habitat, including Trust for Nature and the Australian Bush Heritage Fund.
  • DSE is providing support for a major new programme of habitat enhancement being coordinated by the Wimmera Catchment Management Authority using funding from the Commonwealth Government's Natural Heritage Trust. This programme will provide financial incentives for landholders to protect Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo habitat.

The Victorian Government chose the south-eastern Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo as the Official Mascot of the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games (DSE 2005).

As part of a recovery project currently underway to assess the rate of Buloke tree loss in the Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo (south-eastern) range, arial photographs taken in 1997 are being compared to those taken in 1982. Five of the areas in which Red-tailed Black-Cockatoos are most frequently observed foraging are being studied (Hill et al. 2003).

The Department of the Environment and Heritage has developed a threat abatement plan for Beak and Feather Disease which aims to:

  • Ensure that Beak and Feather Disease does not increase the likelihood of extinction or escalate the threatened status of psittacine birds (parrots).
  • Minimise the chance of Beak and Feather Disease becoming a key threatening process for other psittacine species (DEWHA 2005).

Birds Australia (Vic/SA) received $4,100 of funding through the Threatened Species Network Community Grants in 2002-03 for a telephone survey of the local community and landholders in the habitat range to establish an understanding of the importance of this species, and knowledge of its habitat requirements, as well as a survey of landholders to determine barriers to protecting degraded vegetation and/or revegetation on their land.

Birds Australia (Vic) received $7,000 of funding through the Threatened Species Network Community Grants in 2003-04 for a series of one-day capacity building workshops for landholders to assist them to include measures for conservation of this (and other species), and for the protection of remnant vegetation, as well as replanting of native vegetation.

Trust for Nature received $64,000 of funding for land purchase through the Commonwealth Games' Karak program. Trust for Nature has purchased properties such as `Minimay' which has high quality remnants of Desert Stringybark (Eucalyptus arenacea) and Buloke (Allocasuarina leuhmanii) which are two principal food resources for the cockatoos (Phillips 2007).

Commonwealth of Australia (2005). National Recovery Plan for the South-eastern Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo Calyptorhynchus banksii graptogyne. Department of Environment and Heritage, Canberra.

Hill, R. & T. Burnard (2001). Habitat Management Plan for the South-eastern Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo. Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo Recovery Team, Birds Australia.

Hill, R., Maron, M. and Kirkwood, J. (2003) Advice on the development of significance guidelines regarding clearance of Re-tailed Black-Cockatoo habitat. A report to Environment Australia prepared by the South-eastern Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo Recovery Team, Victoria.

The following table lists known and perceived threats to this species. Threats are based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) threat classification version 1.1.

Threat Class Threatening Species References
Agriculture and Aquaculture:Agriculture and Aquaculture:Land clearing, habitat fragmentation and/or habitat degradation National Recovery Plan for the South-Eastern Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo Calyptorhynchus banksii graptogyne (Australian Government Department of the Environment and Water Resources (AGDEW), 2007b) [Recovery Plan].
The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2000 (Garnett, S.T. & G.M. Crowley, 2000) [Cwlth Action Plan].
Commonwealth Listing Advice on Land clearance (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2001w) [Listing Advice].
Agriculture and Aquaculture:Livestock Farming and Grazing:Grazing pressures and associated habitat changes National Recovery Plan for the South-Eastern Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo Calyptorhynchus banksii graptogyne (Australian Government Department of the Environment and Water Resources (AGDEW), 2007b) [Recovery Plan].
Agriculture and Aquaculture:Livestock Farming and Grazing:Intensive animal production National Recovery Plan for the South-Eastern Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo Calyptorhynchus banksii graptogyne (Australian Government Department of the Environment and Water Resources (AGDEW), 2007b) [Recovery Plan].
Biological Resource Use:Logging and Wood Harvesting:Habitat loss, modification and degradation due to firewood collection National Recovery Plan for the South-Eastern Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo Calyptorhynchus banksii graptogyne (Australian Government Department of the Environment and Water Resources (AGDEW), 2007b) [Recovery Plan].
Ecosystem/Community Stresses:Ecosystem/Community Stresses:Habitat loss/conversion/quality decline/degradation National Recovery Plan for the South-Eastern Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo Calyptorhynchus banksii graptogyne (Australian Government Department of the Environment and Water Resources (AGDEW), 2007b) [Recovery Plan].
Ecosystem/Community Stresses:Indirect Ecosystem Effects:Loss and/or fragmentation of habitat and/or subpopulations National Recovery Plan for the South-Eastern Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo Calyptorhynchus banksii graptogyne (Australian Government Department of the Environment and Water Resources (AGDEW), 2007b) [Recovery Plan].
Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Human induced disturbance due to unspecified activities National Recovery Plan for the South-Eastern Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo Calyptorhynchus banksii graptogyne (Australian Government Department of the Environment and Water Resources (AGDEW), 2007b) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation Pinus radiata (Radiata Pine Monterey Pine, Insignis Pine, Wilding Pine) National Recovery Plan for the South-Eastern Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo Calyptorhynchus banksii graptogyne (Australian Government Department of the Environment and Water Resources (AGDEW), 2007b) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Predation, competition, habitat degradation and/or spread of pathogens by introduced species National Recovery Plan for the South-Eastern Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo Calyptorhynchus banksii graptogyne (Australian Government Department of the Environment and Water Resources (AGDEW), 2007b) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Problematic Native Species:Psittacine Circoviral Disease Commonwealth Listing Advice on Psittacine Circoviral (beak and feather ) Disease affecting endangered psittacine species (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2001v) [Listing Advice].
Natural System Modifications:Fire and Fire Suppression:Inappropriate and/or changed fire regimes (frequency, timing, intensity) National Recovery Plan for the South-Eastern Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo Calyptorhynchus banksii graptogyne (Australian Government Department of the Environment and Water Resources (AGDEW), 2007b) [Recovery Plan].

Attiwill, A.R. (1960). Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo in South-east of South Australia. In: South Australian Ornithologist. 23:37-38.

Beumer, W. (2003). South-eastern Red-tailed Black-Cockatoos - flagship for the Greater Green Triangle. A survey of landholders' understanding of and attitudes towards the conservation of the South-eastern Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo. Unpublished Report to the Red-tailed Black- Cockatoo Recovery Team.

Birds Australia (2005c). Red-Tailed Black-Cockatoo Educational Kit. [Online]. Available from: [Accessed: 10-Nov-2005].

Birds Australia (2005d). About Birds, Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo (south-eastern), Calyptorhynchus banksii graptogyne. [Online]. Available from: [Accessed: 03-Nov-2005].

Burnard, T. & R. Hill (2002a). Draft South-eastern Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo Recovery Plan. Birds Australia report to Department of Environment and Heritage, Canberra.

Carruthers S & D.C. Paton (2005). The Conservation Value of Paddock Trees. A review prepared for Land and Water Australia and the South Australaian Native Vegetation Council. Native Vegetation R & D Program, Land and Water Australia.

Carruthers, S., H. Bickerton, G. Carpenter, A. Brook & M. Hodder (2004). A Landscape Approach to Determine the Ecological Value of Paddock Trees. Summary Report Years 1 and 2. Biodiversity Assessment Services, South Australia Department of Water, Land and Biodiversity Conservation, Adelaide.

Commonwealth of Australia (2005). National Recovery Plan for the South-eastern Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo Calyptorhynchus banksii graptogyne. [Online]. Department of the Environment and Heritage, Canberra. Available from:

Croft, T., S. Carruthers., H. Possingham & B. Inns (1999). Biodiversity Plan for the South East of South Australia. Adelaide: Department of Environment, Heritage and Aboriginal Affairs.

Cutten, J.L. & M.W. Hodder (2002). Scattered Tree Clearance Assessment in South Australia: Streamlining, Guidelines for Assessment, and Rural Industry Extension. Biodiversity Assessments Section, DEHAA, Adelaide.

Department of Sustainability & Environment (1993). Action Statement No 37: Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo Calyptorhynchus banksii graptogyne, Victoria. [Online]. Available from:$File/037+Red-tailed+Black-Cockatoo+2006.pdf.

Department of Sustainability & Environment (2005). Fact Sheet: Actions to Save the Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo. [Online]. Available from:$File/RTBC_Action_Fact+Sheet.pdf.

Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH) (2005q). Threat Abatement Plan for Beak and Feather Disease Affecting Endangered Psittacine Species. [Online]. Available from:

Department of the Environment and Water Resources (DEW) (2007b). South-eastern red-tailed black-cockatoo, Calyptorhynchus banksii graptogyne Threatened Species Day fact sheet. [Online]. Available from:

Emison, W.B. & W. Caldow (1994). Supplementary nest hollows for Red-tailed Black- Cockatoos. Land for Wildlife News. 2(3):13.

Ford, J. (1980). Morphological and ecological divergence and convergence in isolated populations of the Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo. Emu. 80:103-120.

Garnett, S.T. & G.M. Crowley (2000). The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2000. [Online]. Canberra, ACT: Environment Australia and Birds Australia. Available from:

Gibbons, P. & D. Lindenmayer (2002). Tree Hollows and Wildlife Conservation in Australia. Collingwood, Victoria: CSIRO Publishing.

Higgins, P.J., ed. (1999). Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds Volume 4: Parrots to Dollarbird. Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

Hill, R. (2006). Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo Biology - research Findings and Knowledge Gaps. In: Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo - 10 years of Recovery Forum. Old Soldiers' Memorial Hall. Coonawarra South Australia. Thusday 7th September, 2006.

Hill, R. (undated). The Conservation Biology of the South-eastern Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo. Unpublished report to the Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo Recovery Team.

Hill, R. & T. Burnard (2001). Habitat Management Plan for the South-eastern Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo. Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo Recovery Team, Birds Australia.

Hill, R., M. Maron & J. Kirkwood (2003). Advice on the development of significance guidelines regarding clearance of Re-tailed Black-Cockatoo habitat. A report to Environment Australia prepared by the South-eastern Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo Recovery Team, Victoria.

Jarmyn, B. (2000). Nest predation of Cockatoos in south-west Victoria: with special reference to the endangered sub-species of Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo, Calyptorhynchus banksii graptogyne. M.Sc. Thesis. University of Adelaide, Adelaide.

Joseph, L. (1982a). The Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo in south-eastern Australia. Emu. 82:42-45.

Joseph, L., W.B. Emison & W.M. Bren (1991). Critical assessment of the conservation status of Red-tailed Black-Cockatoos in south-eastern Australia with special reference to nesting requirements. Emu. 91:46-50.

Koch, P. (2002). Personal communication.

Koch, P. (2003). Factors influencing food availability for the endangered south-eastern Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo Calyptorhynchus banksii graptogyne in remnant stringybark woodland, and implications for management. Ph.D. Thesis. PhD thesis, University of Adelaide, Adelaide.

Koch, P. (2006). The relationship between fire frequency and stringybark seed production. Old Soldiers' Memorial Hall. Coonawarra South Australia. Thusday 7th September, 2006.

Magrath, M.J.L., M.A. Weston, P. Olsen & M. Antos (2004). Draft Survey Standards for Birds: Species Accounts. Melbourne, Victoria: Report for the Department of the Environment and Heritage by Birds Australia.

Maron, M. (2000). Characteristics of feeding sites of the endangered south-eastern Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo Calyptorhynchus banksii graptogyne in remnant buloke Allocasuarina luehmanii woodland. B. Hons. Thesis. Sc (Hons) Thesis, Monash University, Melbourne.

Maron, M. (2002). Protection of threatened species in agricultural landscapes: design methodology for case studies - Calyptorhynchus banksii graptogyne Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo (south-eastern subspecies). Draft Report to Department of Natural Resources and Environment, Heidelberg.

Maron, M. & A. Lill (2004). Discrimination among potential Buloke (Allocasuarina leuhmannii) feeding trees by the endangered south-eastern Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus banksii graptogyne) in Wildlife Research. Wildlife Research. 31(3):311-317.

McGuire, J. (undated). Personal Communication.

Olsen, P. & M. Weston (Comps) (2005). Fire and Birds: Fire Management for Biodiversity. Wingspan. 15(3) Sept.

Phillips, K (2007). The fight to save an icon. Conservation Bulletin. Issue 38. Trust for Nature.

Radford, J., A. Bennett & L. MacRaild (2004). How much habitat is enough?. Deakin University report to Land and Water Australia, Canberra.

Read Sturgess and Associates for DCNR (1995). 'Supply and demand issues in the firewood market in Victoria'.

Reid, N. & J. Landsberg (2000). Tree decline in agricultural landscapes: what do we stand to lose?. In: Hobbs R.J., & C.J.Yates, eds. Temperate eucalypt woodlands in Australia: biology, conservation, management and restoration. Surrey Beatty and Sons, Chipping Norton.

Robinson, D. & B.J. Traill (1996a). Conserving woodland birds in the wheat and sheep belts of southern Australia. RAOU Conservation Statement No. 10. Supplement to Wingspan. 6 (2).

Schodde, R. (1988). New subspecies of Australian birds. Canberra Bird notes. 13:119-122.

Schodde, R. I.J. Mason & J.T. Wood (1993). Geographical differentiation in the Glossy Black-Cockatoo Calyptorhynchus lathami (Temminck) and its history. Emu. 93:156-166.

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Citation: Department of the Environment (2014). Calyptorhynchus banksii graptogyne in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: Accessed Wed, 17 Sep 2014 08:04:30 +1000.